Thursday, January 28, 2010


Richard Crouse for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a one-liner or a bio)?

RICHARD CROUSE I’m a purveyor of opinions, some wanted, some not.

DS When did you start writing or publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

RC From the time I was quite young I always wanted to look at the book shelf and see my name on the spine of a book. I just had no clue how to make that happen. I wrote (an unpublished) book about my favorite band, The Rolling Stones, when I was fourteen or so. But I had to wait twenty more years to actually write one that went to the printers. My best advice for anyone who has their first book coming out is: remember everything about the process because it’s never the same or as fun, again. I recall when the author’s copies of my first book arrived by courier. Twenty-five copies of the book in a big brown cardboard box with the title and my name on the side. I was excited but let the box sit unopened for several hours because I knew when I opened it, although it was going to be cool to see the book, that part of my dream would be over.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

RC I write in my home office, a sun drenched room cluttered with books, DVDs, nic nacs, and things to keep my brain active. It’s close to the kitchen so there is a never ending supply of caffeine at arm’s reach and it has a big couch for, as the Friendly Giant would say, “two to curl up in,” although most of the time it is just me, sitting, avoiding writing.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

RC Virtually everything I’ve ever written that has been published has been written on the desk you see in the photo. Or, I should say, what’s left of the desk in the photo. The only part that remains of the original desk is the top—the rest of it slowly disintegrated over the years of being moved here and there, but I refuse to let go of the top. It has been the support for my original Underwood typewriter, a series of electric typewriters and now a series of computers and lap tops. It is pock marked and scarred, has had drinks spilled on it and was once treated as a chew toy by a Doberman but is always there for me… and for that reason as long as I write, wherever the desk is will be my favorite place to be.

DS What was the last film you watched/ book you read?

RC I see anywhere from 5 to 10 movies a week, so by the time you post this I’ll have seen 20 more movies, so I’ll pass on that question, but I have been reading a lot lately. I don’t read a lot of fiction but Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem is pretty fabulous and a book called Sway: A Novel by Zachary Lazar has been highly recommended to me.

DS What are you working on now?

RC I always have a number of projects brewing simultaneously. There’s a new TV show that is close to getting funded, a half finished novel about a singer who kills his drummer to get publicity for his band’s new record, the syndicated radio show and a dozen or so writing gigs. Other than that I’m just trying to make sense of all the words in my head by putting them in the right order.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coming up

Next week on DESK SPACE: Richard Crouse

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Jonathan Ball for DESK SPACE


JONATHAN BALL Jonathan Ball: writer, teacher, and wannabe polymath.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

JB I always wrote but got serious about it in 1999. Ten years passed, and I published my first book of poetry, Ex Machina (BookThug, 2009). Ex Machina is a long poem written according the conceit that the book is hijacking the neural machinery of the reader to produce poems, and it meditates on the interconnectedness of poetry, books, machines, and humans. My next book (also poetry) will be Clockfire (Coach House, 2010). Clockfire consists of prose poems which describe plays that would be impossible to produce: a play in which you destroy the sun, plays in which you murder the audience, a play which requires magical powers or absurd physics, and so forth.

DS Where do you write?

JB I write at the desk pictured here. I took the picture in the middle of a writing session (on my coffee break). Twice a week, I write in my office at the University of Winnipeg --- my University of Manitoba office has no computer (I am a sessional instructor at both universities). I may make notes elsewhere, but I try not to write unless I am at the desk.

DS Why do you work where you do?

JB My handwriting is too messy to read so I never work longhand, and I don't have a laptop. Also, I need to confine my writing to a particular small area that I can walk away from --- if I can't physically walk away from the work, then I go crazy feeling compelled/obligated to work constantly. There are also tax reasons to have a specific area of the apartment isolated as a home office. I listen to music while I write, heavy metal for the most part, and my computer doubles as my stereo (you can see the subwoofer on the floor).

DS What are you working on now?

JB The third draft of The Crow Murders, a novel. Not wanting to say too much about a book still in progress, I will reproduce my standard line: "The Crow Murders draws on magic realism and postmodernism to tell a story steeped in gothicism, where the book itself is a monster that seeks the death of its characters." Always working on other things, but this novel is my top writing priority.

Monday, January 4, 2010